NORFOLK, Va. -- The UFC was set to usher in a new era for its flyweight division in Saturday's UFC Fight Night main event. Now only one of the participants is even eligible to win the title.
Brazilian flyweight Deiveson Figueiredo (17-1) weighed in at 127.5 pounds on Friday, 2.5 pounds over the 125-pound limit for the flyweight title fight. His opponent, Joseph Benavidez (28-5), made weight at 124.5 pounds. The bout will still headline UFC Fight Night inside Chartway Arena, but Figueiredo will not claim the flyweight title even if he's successful.
Benavidez, 35, will become the flyweight champion if he wins. He will also receive 30% of Figueiredo's purse.
"Deiveson Figueiredo was in preparation for the fight with his team, accompanied by a doctor, nutritionist, physiologist, physical trainer and technicians," said Figueiredo's manager Wallid Ismail via statement. "The weight was cut appropriately, but this morning, he presented a malaise of gastrointestinal origin. It was discussed with the doctor who monitors him, and together with the team, we chose to preserve the athlete, interrupting the weight loss and performing oral hydration, with the support of the UFC nutritionist. The decision, although difficult, as we were aware that it would not be possible to achieve weight after hydration, was made both to preserve the athlete and to honor the commitment to the event and the opponent."
The UFC's flyweight championship is vacant. Former champion Henry Cejudo vacated the title late last year to focus on the bantamweight division. The UFC considered eliminating the division altogether, but eventually elected to keep it. Now if Figueiredo wins on Saturday, the promotion will still have a vacant title on its hands.
Figueiredo will become the fourth fighter in UFC history to miss weight for a championship fight and still compete. The others were middleweights Travis Lutter (in 2007) and Yoel Romero (in 2018) plus welterweight Joe Riggs in 2005.
For Benavidez, it is his third shot at a UFC championship. He fought Demetrious Johnson for the inaugural flyweight title in September 2012 and lost a close split decision. He challenged Johnson for the belt again in 2013 and suffered a first-round knockout loss. Johnson went on to defend the title a record 11 times.
Fighting out of Las Vegas, Benavidez has gone 9-1 since that loss, including a victory over the former champion Cejudo.
Figueiredo, of Belem, Brazil, is 6-1 in the UFC. His only loss came via decision to fellow Brazilian Jussier Formiga last year. This is the first time he has missed weight in the UFC.